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What Is An Entertainment Lawyer & Top Examples

Photograph of the blog post author, Joelle Banton

Joelle Banton

28.7.2020

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Whether you are a producer, singer, songwriter or a mixture, you are probably wondering whether you need an entertainment lawyer. Entertainment lawyers are important to the industry and the people they work with for several reasons. They help musicians to understand legal agreements and publishing contracts. In this article, we will look at what entertainment lawyers do on a day-to-day basis, and who the best lawyers are in the entertainment industry right now.

entertainment music

What Do Entertainment Lawyers Do?

One of the key things entertainment lawyers do is examine and negotiate contracts and deals. Most of their day is spent meeting with clients, labels, and other lawyers. They then draft arrangements, land booking agents or concert deals and deal with a myriad of other agreements. Not to be confused with a music manager, an entertainment lawyer is concerned with the legal aspect of an artist’s career. 

Why Do You Need An Entertainment Lawyer?

music contract entertainment lawyer

Before signing on the dotted line for anything in your career, you should have an entertainment industry lawyer review the terms and conditions. Even contracts that seem like they have the artists’ best interests at heart may have included some unfavourable conditions. If you are a songwriter or producer, an entertainment lawyer will be particularly useful when protecting intellectual property. 

Searching ‘entertainment lawyer near me?’. Save yourself the time, and check out our list below.

Best Entertainment Lawyers: Los Angeles

Paul Rothenberg, Entertainment Lawyer

On his journey to forge a career in the movie industry, Paul Rothenberg found a different calling – music law. Rothenberg started out in New York and moved to Los Angeles, where he founded his own firm. Rothenberg is now one of the most iconic entertainment lawyers in LA. He predominantly works with artists, serving as general counsel, and has helped launch many careers within the industry. Rothenberg Studied at Dartmouth with the intention of landing a job in the movie business. He soon realised that his heart was not in the movie industry. Rothenberg then went to Law School and met some aspiring artists. This is when his career as an entertainment attorney took off. Numerous artists including Andra Day and Skylar Grey have approached the firm for guidance for record, sponsorship, merchandising and publishing deals.

While charges are not publicly advertised, Rothenberg has stated that his firm offers affordable retainers. This is because they understand the struggles of aspiring artists. If you are a local artist, definitely get in touch with the team at Rothenberg LLP via email at contact@rothenberg-law.com.

Dave Feldman, Entertainment Lawyer

David Feldman, entertainment lawyer, is one of the most renowned attorneys in the industry in LA. Currently working in Beverly Hills, Feldman has recently launched a new entertainment legal firm alongside some other big-time lawyers in the industry (Stephen Breimer and Leigh Brecheen, to name a few). Feldman graduated from Bolt Hall School of Law in the 90s and has been practicing entertainment law ever since. His big break came from working with celebs including Keegan-Michael Key and Lucas Hedgesover the last 10 years. 

Best Entertainment Lawyers: NYC

new york city entertainment lawyer

Jonathan Gray, Entertainment Lawyer

Known for his work in the entertainment and sports industry, entertainment lawyer Jonathan Gray practices in the New York area. Before becoming an entertainment lawyer, Gray studied at Fordham University School of Law. After passing the bar exam, he was admitted to legal practice in 1991. Shortly after that, he founded a firm that grew to have 21 lawyers. These entertainment lawyers provided production counsel and other legal services on hundreds of narrative and documentary films. In 2016, Gray and another high-level entertainment attorney David F. Schwartz launched a boutique LLP in New York. As well as practicing law for over 15 years, Gray and Schwartz have produced numerous films and theatre productions. 

Are you an artist based in the New York Area and want to get in touch with Jonathan Gray? Contact the firms representative via email: rwalker@rubenstein.com

Charles Appiah, Entertainment Lawyer

Based in New York, Charles Appiah has made a name for himself in the industry for going the extra mile. After attending Cornell University and then Seton Hall University School of Law where he obtained a Doctorate in Law, Appiah began specialising in entertainment law. Much of his work is now centred around writing contracts for artists and musicians, copyright law and commercial litigation. Connect with Mr. Appiah.

Best Entertainment Lawyers: Atlanta 

Joel Katz

One of the biggest entertainment law firms in the US is Miami-based Greenberg Traurig. However, the Chairman of the practice, Joel Katz, lives and works in Atlanta. His roster includes high-profile clients and music legends from many different genres of music. His extensive work in the industry as an entertainment lawyer has also led him to win many awards and accolades. He is even ranked number 1 for entertainment attorneys in Billboard’s “Power 100”. His star-studded career spanning over 30 years has also led Katz to become chairman of the American Bar Association’s Entertainment & Sports Law Section.

Mark A. Baker

For over 30 years, Mark A. Baker has worked on many cases and represented many in the entertainment and sports industry. He has been involved with court proceedings and handling legal disputes of large media corporate entities. When he is not working as an attorney, Baker is a gigging musician. This also adds to his unique approach to representing artists. Although Baker has practiced law in Atlanta for most of his career, he is also licensed to practice law in Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama, as well as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

In addition to representing large entertainment firms and artists, Baker has represented numerous financial institutions. In 2016, Baker became a partner at Johnson & Freedman, LLC, a firm in Atlanta. This is where he continues to work with clients from all over the country to deal with trademark and copyright and litigations and agreements. Due to the firm’s smaller size, his services may be more affordable than others in the area.

You can get in touch with Baker, through Johnson & Freedman LLC by calling +1 770-234-9181.

Best Entertainment Lawyers: Miami 

miami entertainment lawyer

Jorge L. Hernandez-Toraño

While Jorge L. Hernandez-Toraño does not label himself as an entertainment lawyer, he has become well known in Miami and Florida for representing high profile clients in the entertainment industry. Hernandez-Toraño mainly practices areas of domestic and international corporate and mergers and acquisitions. Unlike others in this article, Hernandez-Toraño originally studied accounting. After finishing this degree at the University of Miami, he then went to study Law at Boston College. Hernandez-Toraño first started working with artists and entertainment companies on cases that regarded exploitation of intellectual property rights, executive compensation agreements, and trade and non-competition restrictions. In the industry, Hernandez-Toraño’s experience includes representing Grammy Award-winning recording artists and producers, the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, and large record companies. 

To get in touch with Hernandez-Toraño, drop him an email at jorge.hernandez-torano@hklaw.com.

Paul Marshall, Entertainment Lawyer

Through his various associations, Miami-born Paul Marshall has represented many big acts including Whitney Houston, The Beatles, KISS, Neil Diamond, and many more. His 30-year career providing legal counsel to some of the biggest stars in the industry led him to become one of the most well-known entertainment lawyers of all time. Sadly, Marshall passed away in 2012, but his legacy will never be forgotten. He is still remembered as one of the best entertainment lawyers in the US. 

Best Entertainment Lawyers: Chicago

Johnetta Paye

Johnetta Paye is the founder of one of the largest law firms in Chicago, J Paye & Associates. Paye has built up a reputation for herself and her firm for representing some of the biggest artists in Chicago. She started her law career after graduating from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. She then worked as a junior attorney specialising in Copyright Law, Entertainment Law, Trademark Law, and Real Estate Law. Paye then went on to open a boutique law firm that offers quality legal and consulting services in business, entertainment, and real estate. Past clients of Payes’ law firm includes films (“A Sunshine Day” at the 2016 Black Harvest Film Festival), film projects (Eugene Bush of E-Tre Productions), and musicians (Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Belo from Do or Die, Tressa Thomas from “The Five Heartbeats” and “Star Search”). 

As J. Paye & Associates are one of the highest rated firms in the area, their services may be slightly on the pricier side. However, they do offer a free consultation. To get in touch with Paye, give her firm a call on (312) 627-0054.

Eldon Ham

A faculty member of IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law, Eldon L. Ham is another high-profile entertainment lawyer based in Chicago. Ham has been specialising in sports, publishing, and entertainment law since 1994. He has won many awards, including the Distinguished Service Award in 2010. Along with his daughter Carla Ham, Eldon opened a sports and entertainment law firm that focused predominantly on rising talents within the music and sports industry. Ham works on stage, backstage, or behind the scenes for clubs or promoters, dealing with every problem from bookings to tours, costumes, and getting paid. Ham Law LLC truly knows the business from the ground up and the top down. As well as running a law firm, Eldon also works as a legal analyst for WSCR Sports Radio in Chicago and has a few books on sports entertainment. 

To get in touch with Eldon, contact the firm via telephone (312) 876-0590 or email eldon@eldonham.com.

Best Entertainment Lawyers: London 

london entertainment lawyer

Richard Bray

Richard Bray is a joint founding partner of the prestigious London-based legal firm Bray & Krais Solicitors. His many years of practice put him in good stead for acting on deals in the music space. He advises record labels and musical acts on areas including touring, exploitation of commercial rights, and corporate sponsorship. During his years in private practice, Richard has represented many high profile artists, performers, managers, labels, publishers, and senior executives. He has also represented professional sportsmen and women. Richard has been described as “at the top of his game” in terms of the representation of performers in Legal 500, and is recognised by The Legal 500 UK 2020 as a leading individual for his music work. 

Aurelia Butler-Ball

Senior associate solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, Butler-Ball has often been referred to as one of the best music lawyers in London. She has many years’ experience in advising clients in the media and entertainment industries. Butler-Ball advises both individuals and businesses working in music, film, TV, and digital media. She holds a certificate in Legal Rights and Trade Practices in the Creative Industries from UCL Faculty of Laws. The biggest highlights of her career so far has been acting for recording artists on their deals, with some being signed to major record labels such as Sony Music. Much of her recent work also includes providing legal advice to digital media companies and publishers. 

To get in touch with Butler-Ball, contact 44 (0)129 374 2947 or +44 (0)750 125 2707.

Thinking Of Becoming An Entertainment Lawyer?

To work as any type of attorney in many countries, you need a graduate or master’s degree in Law and maybe even a JDS (Doctor of Juridical Science). However, you do not need to have a Bachelor’s degree in law to get onto these courses. Many of the lawyers mentioned in this article studied communications, music business, or media before attending law school. After graduating and passing the separate legal examination the state/country requires, you can then choose to specialise in entertainment law. 

Many entertainment lawyers start by interning at a law firm that handles entertainment cases. A few of the entertainment lawyers we mentioned started out as artists themselves. If you are reading this article as an artist, this is an added bonus for landing a role as a junior entertainment attorney. Although all entertainment lawyers are different, they all inhibit key skills such as negotiation skills, complex problem-solving skills, coordination, and persuasion skills. 

Summary & Conclusion

scrabble letters spelling law

This article highlights many key reasons why artists should have an entertainment lawyer. They can help propel your career and then sustain your success by negotiating great deals to landing new sponsorship deals. But before you reach out to entertainment lawyers, make sure to list the reasons you need one, and what you specifically need legal help with. We have listed some great entertainment lawyers, however, before getting in touch with these lawyers, ensure they specialise in the type of legal issues you need help with. Do your research and look at their success rates and who they’ve worked with, and read their reviews. 

Remember, a costly service doesn’t always mean the best service. There are some affordable law firms around that offer a top-notch service and value for money!

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